23andMe Is Pioneering The Research Of Incurable Diseases
23andMe is well known for providing consumers with at-home DNA testing kits. However, did you know that the company is also making major waves in the DNA and genetic research space?
By using the large amount of genetic data the company has compiled over the years, it’s submitted peer-reviewed publications, launched its own therapeutics lab, and collaborated with major pharmaceutical companies.
Keep reading to learn more about how 23andMe is pioneering the research of incurable diseases and discover how this might affect you.
What Is 23andMe?
As one of the largest direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies, you’ve probably heard of 23andMe or know someone who’s used their services. 23andMe is a privately held genomics and biotechnology company. The name is a reference to the 23 pairs of chromosomes that can be found in a regular human cell.
This company’s DNA testing kits are affordable and very simple to use. How does this testing kit work? First, you need to identify the package or analysis you want to gain from your DNA test based on what the company offers. Next, your test will arrive at your doorstep. Once you receive your test, simply submit a cheek swab or saliva sample, depending on the instructions. Return the kit to a sealed bag and send it back to the laboratory. Then, await your results.
23andMe's Important Medical Research
The genetic testing company is able to rely on its massive database of information to conduct in-depth research and analysis. By doing so, the company has enjoyed breakthroughs and the ability to establish genetic links to various conditions. From depression and baldness to cancer, this company covers a wide variety of conditions. Moreover, it has published in-depth reporting and research based on its discoveries.
For example, 23andMe was able to connect an individual’s likelihood of engaging in risky behavior such as smoking and drinking, to genetics. The company identified 124 genetic variants that could be linked with these behaviors.
Data Privacy Concerns
Alongside the good, inevitably comes the bad. Through user information, this company has been able to achieve incredible advances in research. However, privacy and bioethics experts are raising a red flag. This testing company partners with massive pharmaceutical companies in order to carry out research, so the company, in the end, profits from its users’ genetic information.
The biggest privacy concerns include data leaks and hacks, along with sharing sensitive information with third parties.
The numbers might just speak for themselves. 23andMe allows users to opt-in or out of sharing their information with third parties. The company promises no identifying information is included in the sharing of the DNA. This company has around five million customers, and about 80% of them have agreed to let their DNA test results be used in research.
Matching Medical Conditions And Genes
As a pioneer of at-home DNA testing, 23andMe has also bumped heads with regulatory agencies like the FDA. As part of its services, it offers to inform users about their likelihood of developing certain genetic diseases based on their DNA.
The FDA raised a red flag over concerns regarding public health and the damage that an inaccurate analysis could do. Slowly but surely, this company has gained approval from the FDA. Currently, the company can test user DNA for predisposition to ten different genetic diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and breast cancer.
What Can DNA Testing Tell You About Your Health
While DNA research is doing wonders to advance the treatment and understanding of serious illnesses and diseases, a simple at-home kit can also provide you with invaluable information about your personal health.
Depending on the kind of test you order, you can gain insights into your own unique genetic information and how it affects your health. For example, some kits provide suggestions for diet and exercise routines. Others may tell you what predispositions you have to genetic diseases. This information can allow you to take important and proactive steps in protecting your health and well being.
While you may think of 23andMe as just an at-home DNA testing company, it’s actually a lot more. By leveraging its massive database of user information, 23andMe’s research of incurable diseases is proving to contribute important and groundbreaking findings for medical research.